Thomas Zabala said Thursday that ZGA Architects' failed attempt to secure a contract for the $8.9 million project was not a factor in his vote to deny the state's application.
The problem with the application, he said, is that state legislators didn't allocate enough money to make the 580-space, six-story building fit the surrounding neighborhood.
"I thought that the architects, the designers, the contractor had done as good as a job as they could under the circumstances," he said. "Had we been the successful firm in getting that, we would have faced the same problem."
In a Jan. 9 meeting of the Design Review Committee, Zabala acknowledged that ZGA helped pitch a plan for building the garage. He seconded committeeman David Rudeen's motion to deny the state's application.
The motion passed unanimously. Two months later, Boise's Planning and Zoning Commission upheld the committee's denial. The state appealed to the City Council, which scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday.
Earlier this week, Idaho legislative services director Jeff Youtz suggested in a letter to the Statesman that, because of ZGA's attempt to secure the garage contract, Zabala should not have voted.
"This glaring professional conflict of interest didn't exactly inspire confidence in the objectivity of that vote," Youtz wrote.
Youtz said in an interview Thursday that his letter was not an attack on Zabala. He believes Zabala's vote was "in good faith" and that losing out on the contract "probably didn't affect his judgment at all."
"What I'm saying is that his decision to sit on that Design Review Committee was a glaring professional conflict of interest from a process standpoint," Youtz said. "From a public perception, we want those kinds of decisions to be as objective as possible, and if there's a conflict of interest then that undermines that perception."
Sven Berg: 377-6275